Today, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service shared with the public our “New Year’s Resolutions” for Fiscal Year 2014. Like many of the people who consume the products we regulate, we set new goals for ourselves at the beginning of each year. Known as the Annual Performance Plan, this list of key results we plan to achieve between now and September 2014 to do our jobs better, which means making America’s supply of meat, poultry, and egg products safer to eat. This is our third APP. It is something that we take very seriously. It is consistent with our emphasis on performance and our efforts to improve how we do our jobs every day.
The goals listed in our APP are all measurable. By setting specific targets and measuring our progress throughout the year, we have a clearer picture of what is working well, which initiatives are not effective, and where we may not be challenging ourselves enough. By making our targets public, we are holding ourselves accountable to you, and we are giving the regulated industry, consumers, and other interested persons an overview of our priorities and of our expectations for the year ahead. Read more »
A guide to USDA poultry grades, labeling terms and cooking tips. Click to view a larger version.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it is the perfect time to learn more about the quality grade standards for poultry products and the “Grade A” shield you might find on the label of your family’s main dish. Most consumers are familiar with the USDA beef grades – Prime, Choice and Select. But did you know USDA has similar grade standards for Poultry products?
The USDA grade shields are reputable symbols of quality American poultry products. Large-volume buyers such as grocery stores, military institutions, restaurants, and even foreign governments use the quality grades as a common “language” within the poultry industry, making business transactions easier. Read more »
USDA Market News reporter Holly Mozal teaches a Cochran Fellowship group from Haiti about our Market News database. We capture data for everything from cotton, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, livestock, meats, poultry, eggs, grain and hay, to milk and dairy, and tobacco.
At some point in our lives, we all wonder what it would be like if we didn’t exist. How would things be different? Last month, American farmers and businesses experienced what it was like to live without USDA Market News. While the markets continued to operate, we received several phone calls and heard stories of how so many small and mid-sized producers struggled without the valuable information we provide.
In the 100-year history of Market News, this was only the second time that the data reports were not available. The reports give farmers, producers and other agricultural businesses the information they need to evaluate market conditions, identify trends, make purchasing decisions, monitor price patterns, evaluate transportation equipment needs and accurately assess movement. The information, gathered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) and provided for free, captures data for everything from cotton, fruits, vegetables and specialty crops, livestock, meats, poultry, eggs, grain and hay, to milk and dairy, and tobacco. Read more »
The recent multistate outbreak of Salmonella has served as yet another reminder of the importance of a modern, effective food safety system in the United States. That’s why USDA has undertaken a comprehensive effort to modernize poultry slaughter inspection in ways that will reduce the risk for American families.
A recent story in the Washington Post shared claims by some that this new effort would compromise humane handling. The fact is, this proposal will better position our inspectors to ensure humane handling standards are being met – all while protecting American families from illness caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter. Read more »
Stanley Lee has put more efficient light bulbs in his chicken houses and made other updates that lower his carbon footprint.
It can take a lot of energy to raise chickens as farmers have to control the temperature and lighting in houses, meaning high costs and high energy use.
But with help from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, poultry producers can cut their costs while conserving energy.
One Benton County, Ark. producer is cutting his gas and electric bills while decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. Stanley Lee did this by installing radiant heaters, light-emitting diode light bulbs, or LEDs, and attic insulation in his six chicken houses that shelter 890,000 chickens each year. Read more »
On August 30th, FSIS announced the results of our verification audit of China’s poultry processing inspection system, which reaffirmed the equivalence of China’s poultry processing system. This determination was made after a long and careful review by our expert auditors to ensure that China’s system for processed poultry meets the United States’ safety standards. FSIS’ core mission is food safety and our staff works hard and diligently to ensure that the U.S. food supply remains safe. Since the announcement of the audit results, our agency has received several inquires regarding this determination so I want to take the time to explain this process and clarify any misperceptions.
Let me start with explaining what this “equivalence” determination means. If a country wants to export FSIS regulated product to the United States, as a regulatory agency, we are required to review this request and conduct an audit to determine if their food safety system meets U.S. standards. The process for determining China’s equivalence began in 2004, when China submitted a formal request to FSIS that the agency evaluate China’s poultry system to assess it equivalence and thus its eligibility to export poultry products to the United States. After an extensive audit, FSIS granted China “equivalence” for processed poultry in 2006 which meant that China was eligible to export cooked chicken to the U.S. as long as the raw poultry was from an approved source. FSIS began rulemaking and published a final rule in the Federal Register, adding China to the list of countries eligible to export cooked poultry to the United States. However, the 2008 appropriations bill prohibited FSIS from using funding to implement the final rule that allowed China to export processed chicken. In 2010, the appropriations ban was lifted and China submitted a new request for an equivalence audit. Read more »